July 29 (Reuters) - Researchers in Japan have designed a test to identify patients who are likely to be resistant to imatinib, the standard drug for treating leukaemia or cancer of the blood cells.
Such a test is important as imatinib resistance occurs usually to relapse patients, who tend to deteriorate very rapidly if they are given the wrong treatment.
In a paper published in Clinical Cancer Research on Thursday, the scientists said they developed a test which will help doctors tell if a patient with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is resistant to imatinib.
Imatinib, known by the brand Gleevec, is sold by Novartis AG (NOVN.VX) to treat CML and other cancers. It blocks the enzymes of cancer cells instead of killing all rapidly multiplying cells.
"Most patients are sensitive to imatinib when they are diagnosed with CML, but resistance can indeed be acquired during or after imatinib treatment," said Yusuke Ohba, an associate professor at Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine.